2012 Audi TT-RS


It’s easy to think of the Audi TT as a chick car. After all, it’s cute, small, and sporty. But don’t write off the line just yet. Suspend your judgment until this fall when Audi launches the testosterone-laced TT-RS.

To earn that RS badge (the designation is Audi’s version of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG or BMW’s M-brand and is only given to the company’s highest-performing models), the TT had to undergo some serious training—and chug some serious supplements. The biggest improvement over the standard TT is a new turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that stuffs 360 horsepower under the hood. Although it’s not quite a six, yet bigger than a four, five-cylinder engines have a unique, slightly uncouth character that suits the car perfectly. Even better, the engine roars with the same mechanical aggression as the Audi race cars that dominated rallying in the 1980s. (Compared to the competition, those 30 extra ponies will make bringing the shame only that much easier.)

Fortunately, coping with all that added power shouldn’t be a problem. The TT-RS’s all-wheel-drive system provides slip-free traction even during acceleration. And to the delight of those who cherish the man-machine connection, the company also chose a six-speed manual transmission over the quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. (Traffic-stalled commuters may argue they made the wrong decision.)

One thing everybody should agree on is the decision to fine-tune the RS’s suspension: Its stunning 19-inch five- spoke wheels come wrapped in wide rubber that perfectly fill out those flared fenders, while magnetic shocks constantly adapt to keep the tires glued to the road, providing an overall secure feeling whenever you’re behind the wheel. That sense of handling security makes the TT-RS an easy car to press through corners—just point the steering wheel and step on it. The RS will turn, stick, and then rocket out of the corner. It’s easy, it’s gratifying, and it’ll make even average drivers feel like all-stars (potentially the car’s most amazing trick of all).

To make sure no one confuses the RS with the pillbox their girlfriend drives, Audi’s also crafted an angrier face that digs a bit deeper toward the pavement. Prices are expected to start at around $60,000, or roughly the price of a Porsche Cayman S. The Porsche might seem the obvious choice; but as a few lucky buyers (1,000 over two years) will find, this Audi is incredibly iconoclastic—and most definitely not a chick car.

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